Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text

By
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 6:00 am
Protesters outside of a health care town hall meeting held by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) in Tampa on Thursday (YouTube)

Protesters outside a health care town hall meeting held by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) in Tampa last Thursday (YouTube)

Michael Patrick Leahy’s self-published conservative manifesto is coming off the presses this week, and not a moment too soon.

“The timing is crucial,” said Leahy, the Nashville, Tenn., activist who founded the Top Conservatives on Twitter hashtag and played another founding role in the anti-tax “Tea Party” movement. “I’m trying to get these principles out there for conservatives this month, as people attend these town hall meetings with their members of Congress. These are principles that conservatives need to know.”

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Image by: Matt Mahurin

Those principles are the ones that the late left-wing activist Saul Alinsky outlined in his 1971 book “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” Leahy’s book, “Rules for Conservative Radicals,” boils them down and scraps Alinsky’s more “amoral” suggestions. “The problem that conservatives have with Alinsky is that, for him, the ends justified the means,” explained Leahy. “I’m suggesting that we take the successful Alinsky rules, we update them and apply them to new social networking technology, and we execute them in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Thirty-eight years since the publication of his handbook and 37 years since he died, Alinsky has found a thriving and surprising fan club in the modern conservative movement. Leahy is one of many “Tea Party” activists who have latched onto “Rules for Radicals” as a blueprint for a counter-revolution, a campaign of robust challenges to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress that is playing out nearly every day of the August recess in noisy town hall meetings. “Alinsky-cons” have taken the union organizer’s “13 rules for power tactics” and “11 rules to test whether power tactics are ethical” and found a strategy that, they believe, is chipping away at the momentum for national health care reform. When they flummox representatives with chants, or laugh out loud at their attempts to explain their votes, many “Tea Party” activists say they’re cribbing from Alinsky.

The most obvious beneficiary of the surge of interest in Alinsky has been Random House, which publishes the book through its Vintage imprint. According to Nielsen BookScan, “Rules for Radicals” has sold 15,000 copies since the start of this year — it only sold 35,000 copies from 2000 through 2008. Since the start of August, it has sold 1,000 copies. At Amazon.com, “Rules” is safely nestled in the Top 75 on the retailer’s bestseller list, and it’s No. 1 in the “radical thought,” “civics,” and “sociology/history” categories. Most tellingly, the people who snatch up copies of Alinsky’s book at Amazon don’t go on to buy more liberal texts. Instead, according to the online bookseller, they purchase Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption,” Glenn Beck’s “Common Sense,” and Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny.”

“I picked up the book after the [November 2008] election,” said John O’Hara, a staffer at the conservative Heartland Institute who helped plan anti-tax “Tea Parties” in February and April. “There really is no equivalent book for conservatives. There’s no ‘Rules for Counter-Radicals.’”

amazon.com

Amazon.com

There’s a reason why “Rules for Radicals” became the go-to book for would-be Tea Party and town hall activists. Alinsky-cons can trace their inspiration back to 2008, when it became clear that Obama would win the nomination and Republicans looked deeper into his past for clues about his hidden, not-so-centrist beliefs. Attacking Alinsky was easy; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had been pilloried for writing her senior thesis on the organizer, and in his influential 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” Jonah Goldberg placed him firmly in the totalitarian tradition: “substitute the word ‘fascist’ for ‘radical’ in many of Alinsky’s statements and it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference.” In the conservative muckraker Jerome Corsi’s “Obama Nation,” published one year ago this week, Alinsky (whom Obama never met) was singled out as a malign influence in the candidate’s education. Alinsky had “extreme socialist objectives,” explained Corsi in an August 2008 Fox News appearance, as “a radical leftist organizer who said that his goal was redistribution of wealth from the haves to the have-nots.”

The attack traveled slowly from Corsi’s bestseller and conservative Websites into Republican talking points. In the final month of the presidential race, when Sen. John McCain’s campaign attacked Obama for befriending reformed Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and receiving campaign help from the community organizing group ACORN, Alinsky became the hidden influence in Obama’s career, in the eyes of many Republicans. In an Oct. 7, 2008 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani noted, darkly, that the Democratic presidential candidate had been “educated in the Saul Alinsky methods.” In her infamous Oct. 17, 2008 interview on “Hardball,” which generated a backlash that nearly cost her a seat in Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) accused Obama of hobnobbing with “radical leftists” and called Alinsky “one of his teachers, you might say, out of the Chicago area.”

Obama hadn’t exactly covered his tracks. The candidate had written and spoken extensively about his past as a community organizer; Obama’s old allies had spoken about it in a sympathetic profile piece by Ryan Lizza, published in The New Republic. Still, the idea of Alinsky and “Rules for Radicals” as a skeleton key explaining how Obama rose to power, or why Organizing for America was created after the campaign ended, has proven incredibly powerful. On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck has put up charts that connect Alinsky to ACORN and Obama’s allies. When Rush Limbaugh came under fire for hoping the president would “fail,” he told Mark Levin that he was being “Alinskyed.”

Glenn Beck illustrates Alinksy's influence on the left. (Fox News)

Glenn Beck illustrates Alinsky's influence on the left. (Fox News)

The growth of the “Tea Party” movement has seen Alinky morph from a bogeyman to a possible inspiration to conservative activists. In April, Brendan Steinhauser of FreedomWorks, the conservative group that has provided guidance to many “Tea Party” organizers and town hall rowdies, told TWI that the group was “applying Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’” in its approach to anti-tax “Tea Parties.” In June, he told Eric Kleefeld of TPMDC that “Rules” was the first book handed to new employees of the group.

“That first rule, ‘power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have’ — that argument is happening right now,” said Steinhauser, “with both sides arguing about which side represents the majority on health care.” The mockery and laughter at town halls struck Steinhauser as an adoption of the fifth rule, which posits that “Ridicule is a man’s most potent weapon.” The old deference to congressmen, out of respect for the office, has “broken down.”

Other “Tea Party” activists have gotten on board; a memo written by Bob MacGuffie of the conservative group Right Principles told conservatives to adopt some of the “Rules” at town hall meetings and hold their representatives to account. “Use the Alinsky playbook of which the left is so fond,” wrote MacGuffie, quoting from the twelfth of Alinsky’s original rules. “Freeze it, attack it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Some conservative writers have latched onto “Rules for Radicals” to explain the extremist roots of a new Obama policy or explain why a new anti-Obama tactic will work. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy has warned that the Obama administration might “cook the books” on the 2010 Census because it “apportions political count,” and “anyone who has read Alinsky could have predicted that the census would be among Obama’s top priorities.” Joseph Farah, the editor-in-chief of the conservative Website WorldNetDaily, has theorized that the Obama administration mocks “birthers” who push conspiracy theories about the president’s citizenship because it’s following Alinsky’s fifth rule on “ridicule.”

All of this has been quite confusing to Gregory Galluzzo. A veteran community organizer at the Gamaliel Foundation and a disciple of Alinsky (though they never met) who trained the young Obama, Galluzzo has watched with frustration as “over the top and rabid ideologues” on the right stormed town hall meetings, claiming to have flipped Alinsky’s rulebook back onto liberals.

“They polarize,” said Galluzzo. “They’ve got that part down. They do direct action. But that’s not the kind of organizing we do. We end up building relationships with the people we oppose. I’m not going to go up to Mayor [Richard] Daley and say ‘you’re just a Nazi.’ I want to end up working with him.”

But according to Galluzzo, if Alinsky could take a look at the Alinsky-cons, he’d call them “petty protesters” who want to destroy the system without offering solutions. “If you just go around calling people assholes,” Galluzzo said, “you’re not going to get anything done.”

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Comments

47 Comments

PunditKix
Trackback posted August 11, 2009 @ 6:34 am

The Washington Independent » Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text…

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Progressive Nation » Blog Archive » Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text
Pingback posted August 11, 2009 @ 7:04 am

[...] Arti­cle: Con­ser­v­a­tives Find Town Hall Strat­egy in Left­ist Text — Wash­ing­ton Independent Share and [...]


Hillary Snaps: “My husband is not secretary of state, I am” | Gadget Look
Pingback posted August 11, 2009 @ 7:31 am

[...] “The timing is crucial,” said Leahy, the Knoxville, Tenn., activist who founded the Top Conservatives on Twitter hashtag and played another founding role in the anti-tax “Tea Party” movement. “I’m trying to get these principles out there for conservatives this month, as people attend these town hall meetings with their members of Congress. These are principles that conservatives need to know.&#8Read more at http://washingtonindependent.com/54554/conservatives-find-town-hall-strategy-in-leftist-text [...]


Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text | Adoption and Orphans Information
Pingback posted August 11, 2009 @ 8:11 am

[...] Original post:  Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text [...]


Lionheart Group | The Washington Independent » Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy …
Pingback posted August 11, 2009 @ 8:34 am

[...] Read the original: The Washington Independent » Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy … [...]


jeffinohio
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

Yes, use Alinsky as your glide path. It worked so well for the American Left, it led to 35 years of a downward spiral for Unions and guaranteed Republicans set the agenda. The Conservative Movement = fish on a boat deck.


repsarecowards
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

The current crop of conservatives is truly despicable.

Instead of trying to find a good way to govern all they want to do is disrupt the system that they broke in the first place.

Are there no Republicans with a conscience anymore ?


Chris A. Hanousek
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

Hope everyone reads this through the last three paragraphs. Alinsky worked on alliances w/ business and corporations to make the lives of Joe and Jane 6 pack better. He is still on my most admired list along w/ Jesus, Ghandi, MLK, RFK.


Nothing Says “Let’s Have a Civil Debate” Like a Swastika • CrazyDrumGuy
Pingback posted August 11, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

[...] long until the teabaggers realize that they are all socialist community organizers now? (Washington [...]


narciso
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

No Alinsky is much more in the model of Gramsci, who recommended undermining the political and social infrastructure, with Marxist memes, so even a nominal libertarian (that's what you are right Dave) is repeating it. Of course, a spokesman for the Gamaliel foundation will not point out
the facts. What has Obama actually done, as opposed to Gandhi who liberated his nation, King
who helped liberate his people, even Robert Kennedy who actually fought the establishment, not became it's pawn


NewsCorpse
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

What is Glenn Beck going to do?

He has been hammering the Alinsky-ites. Now his very own Tea Baggers are embracing Alinsky.

This could push Beck over the edge. Well…further over.


angelschool
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

I don't know where this guy thinks he got his information from but he is by far WRONG! We did NOT get our info from Saul Alinsky. We are going to these meetings because we ourselves are concerned not because a communist told us to but because we are true Americans!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU!


Swami_Binkinanda
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

We become what we despise. -Emerson

But I believe in this, and it's been tested by research,
that he who ficks nuns will later join the church.-The Clash, Death or Glory


Swami_Binkinanda
Comment posted August 11, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

A real American wouldn't be running around like a chicken with its head cut off screaming out random rants about things that aren't true, shutting down public meetings with intimidation tactics, making death threats against representatives, and shouting “Commie Commie Commie” at people who may disagree with them but have honest and serious points to make. If you want to keep getting ripped off by insurance companies, nobody is standing in your way. If you want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, make an honest effort to help reform the health insurance industry because it is bleeding this country dry and not providing an honest product. Would you buy your kid pants and then when he gets them dirty take them away forever because he has a history of pre-existing dirty pants? Or cut them shorter every week to make a patchwork quilt until he's nekkid? That's what the insurance companies are doing is pantsing this country, and the GOP and paid lobbyists are doing everything possible to try to make you think Obama is going to make everyone wear kilts-a classic tactic of misdirection that seems to be working.


LarryMiller
Comment posted August 12, 2009 @ 1:41 am

I've been studying Alinsky myself, for much the same reason… and recommend it for everyone. There are things we can learn for ourselves and others to know their processes. I look forward to the book.


How to Find What you Want? | Teaching About it
Pingback posted August 12, 2009 @ 8:43 am

[...] The Washington Independent » Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy … [...]


NaderPaulKucinichGravel
Comment posted August 12, 2009 @ 7:56 am

Anderson Baldwin Carter Choate Clemente Gonzalez Gravel Kaptur Kucinich McKinney Nader Paul Perot Sheehan Ventura

Future of a Nation that can not trust the Government & Propaganda Media?
DNC & RNC have sold out the country in order to enrich themselves
Chronic lying as career path, intellectual prostitution for paycheck
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me
Does the Government & Propaganda Media lie to you?
Wall Street Bailout Bill: Bush McCain Obama et al.
AIPAC 9/11 Bankers Extortion Blackmail Bribery
Independents agree on more than we disagree
Elite Ruling Class Greed or public servants?
Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil
Honesty compassion conscience guts
Both parties are corrupt to the core
Beware the divide and conquer
Whistle-Blower leaks multiply
A very RawStory on PressTV
InfoWars on a PrisonPlanet
Israel-first dual-nationals
Gung-ho Chickenhawks
JFK RFK MLK Malcolm
Anthrax Intimidation
GGreenwald

Left and rights of passage
Black and whites of youth
Who can face the knowledge
That the truth is not the truth?
Obsolete
Absolute

Single payer?
Medicare for all?
Off the table?
Just like Impeachment was…


andy
Comment posted August 13, 2009 @ 3:15 am

the modern conservative movement is so sad


Right wingers, desperate to return to power, turn to the man they demonized, Saul Alinsky - 2parse
Pingback posted August 13, 2009 @ 11:41 am

[...] these town hall disruptions and other attempts to block health insurance reform are linked to the right-wingers’ reading of Saul Alinsky – who many right-wingers see as Obama’s closest mentor (though Obama never met him.) [...]


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Conservatives imitating Saul Alinsky - Orange Punch - OCRegister.com
Pingback posted August 20, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

[...] Saul Alinsky, the community organizer of “Rules for Radicals” fame. It turns out, if this article is correct, that it’s much more than just a coincidence. Given the prominence in the campaign of [...]


Anonymous
Pingback posted August 27, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

[...] [...]


sammy m.
Comment posted August 28, 2009 @ 2:44 am

Two sides of the same coin—what a crock.

from the article:

“The problem that conservatives have with Alinsky is that, for him, the ends justified the means,” explained Leahy. “I’m suggesting that we take the successful Alinsky rules, we update them and apply them to new social networking technology, and we execute them in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Um, like Obama's mentor Gregory Galluzzo aka Alinsky's St. Paul?

Machiavelli's “end justifies the means” was around long before Alinsky “no smoking no speech” was welcomed in church.


Educated_and_scared
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 7:12 pm

Swami I believe we need to address insurance reform, malpractice suits, and other aspects but in no way should we ever and I mean ever transition to a Europeans style univversal healthcare system. It has never worked as successfully as has our style has and it never will because by definition it is inefficient and wasteful. A govt program cannot compete with a private one on a level playing field. It is that simple and it is fact so please don't attempt to even argue against that. But it is sad to what great lengths Barry has gone to cover up his fascist and historically ineffective views of socialism. I think we both know had the american public really been made aware of this people would have ran for the hills and simply voted for anyone other than him. That is why he is a coward trying to backdoor everything because he'll be hit face on if he tries to implement socialism and promote it publicly. You are a nut Swami and exactly what is wrong with America. Get a freekin econ or business degree, post grad, and you'll realize how ignorant you really are. Barry is the one implementing misdirection and OVERTLY LYING to the general public. I hope when it is all said and done he is incarcerated for treason


Educated_and_scared
Comment posted September 15, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

nice Arlinsky reply…you are definitely applying what your socialist mentors have taught you, however perverse and detrimental to America it is…but then again you were probably born abroad as was Barry and came here to change our capitalist system from within because of the hatred you have for our success as a country over the last few generations. capitalism is why we are a success….Not because of wealth re-distribution, not because of a socialist agenda, but because of the way we adhere to the constitution and its emphasis on property rights. It is why it works. If socialism is so great why has it been one of the biggest failures ever? why are the European countries attempting to shy away from their model of healthcare? because it is actually more expensive and less productive than our system. People please research how much they actually have to pay in other countries as well as the time it takes to get everything done..,.oh not to mention US survival rates for cancer, hiv, etc is over 20% of that of Europenan universal or single payer systems. THEY PAY MORE OUT OF POCKET. I wish liberals would f(*^*( read for a change and do research instead of expecting a free lunch all of the time. Liberals are lazy, welfare abusing degenerates or people that have been given so much in their lives they didn't have to work for their money and can easily give others' money away because of their lack of understanding of opportunity, hard work, and PROPERTY RIGHTS established under our great constitution. Liberals hate America and are still apologizing for atrocities that happened hundreds of years ago without warrant. Way to master the ridicule aspect of Arlinsky's teachings. From Russia with love


The Progressive Internal Critique
Pingback posted September 20, 2009 @ 5:00 am

[...] Glenn Beck’s adherents are combing through community organizer Saul Alinky’s Viva-la-Rev-for-Dummies guide, Rules for Radicals, to [...]


Pajaken
Comment posted December 10, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

Republicans must learn the tactics the democrats use to get their way. Bully the questioner and change the subject and just keep on talking about your point until they give up or move on to another subject. They have carried out that strategy for years now and it works for them. We need Republican speakers who can just talk over and around whatever person they are talking to. Ask questions that divert their attention from what they are talking about and start another line of thought. Democrats have become masters at twisting conversations to other subjects and turning back questions by asking other questions. Comparing what is being discussed to another persons opinion about similar situations. For example: Do you plan to carry out that program? The other person then says; well Joe Schmoe did that when he was in office didn't he? It is the old bait and switch game that they have become experts at. Learn to talk over them and don't let up speaking until they give up and stop talking. Turn the tables on them by using their own tactics. Rules for Radicals can be used against them also. Use their own methods on them. I really believe they are being taught how to use these tactics against Republicans every time they are criticized and called to answer questions they cannot answer. Bluff and attack right back. We need good speakers and people that can answer back and talk over them. Back to school folks. Learn to attack and answer back any and all criticism from the left. We cannot be timid. Look what happened to John McCain when he tried to be fair and balanced. They will just trample us into the mud.


Pajaken
Comment posted December 10, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

Republicans must learn the tactics the democrats use to get their way. Bully the questioner and change the subject and just keep on talking about your point until they give up or move on to another subject. They have carried out that strategy for years now and it works for them. We need Republican speakers who can just talk over and around whatever person they are talking to. Ask questions that divert their attention from what they are talking about and start another line of thought. Democrats have become masters at twisting conversations to other subjects and turning back questions by asking other questions. Comparing what is being discussed to another persons opinion about similar situations. For example: Do you plan to carry out that program? The other person then says; well Joe Schmoe did that when he was in office didn't he? It is the old bait and switch game that they have become experts at. Learn to talk over them and don't let up speaking until they give up and stop talking. Turn the tables on them by using their own tactics. Rules for Radicals can be used against them also. Use their own methods on them. I really believe they are being taught how to use these tactics against Republicans every time they are criticized and called to answer questions they cannot answer. Bluff and attack right back. We need good speakers and people that can answer back and talk over them. Back to school folks. Learn to attack and answer back any and all criticism from the left. We cannot be timid. Look what happened to John McCain when he tried to be fair and balanced. They will just trample us into the mud.


jaxparrothead
Comment posted March 22, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

So if we on the left buy this book, then we will know how to counter the Tea Baggers tactics. Sweet. Appreciate it.


jaxparrothead
Comment posted March 22, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

What page has the info about using racial slurs and spitting on our Congressmen? Wait, I just found it, its right beside the page that tells you its okay to threaten the life of our President.


uberVU - social comments
Trackback posted March 22, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by TWI_news: Conservatives Find Town Hall Strategy in Leftist Text http://bit.ly/C8qAP...


Dem Dirty Trick - Fake Tea Party Registration - Page 2 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum
Pingback posted May 18, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

[...] leftists, why were only 35,000 copies sold from 2000 through 2008, the era of the Bush Regime? Yet 15,000 copies were sold between January and August of 2009. AND the people who snatch up copies of [...]


Reveille for Republicans - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine
Pingback posted June 30, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

[...] Walker | August 12, 2009 Over at The Washington Independent, Dave Weigel discovers that conservatives have been reading Saul Alinsky. Not the caricature of the man that's trotted out [...]


lv
Comment posted August 9, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

What page has the info about using racial slurs and spitting on our Congressmen? Wait, I just found it, its right beside the page that tells you its okay to threaten the life of our President.


Pajaken
Comment posted August 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

See what I mean… That NEVER happened. Their is a $100,000. prize for anyone who can prove that happened. There were no racial slurs or spitting. IT IS A LIE That's all they do is lie about racism when they have no other answers.


Miles Mogulescu: Take Back The Streets From Beck, Palin, Fox News, The Koch Brothers, and The Tea Party « In The News « Obama America
Pingback posted August 30, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

[...] as The Washington Independent reported last August, the organizers of last summers's disruptions of health care town hall meetings were directly [...]


Miles Mogulescu: Take Back The Streets From Beck, Palin, Fox News, The Koch Brothers, and The Tea Party | World News Mania
Pingback posted August 30, 2010 @ 3:38 pm

[...] as The Washington Independent reported last August, the organizers of last summers's disruptions of health care town hall meetings were directly [...]


cotton bedspreads
Comment posted September 14, 2010 @ 7:07 pm

pathetic is the word you're looking for.


vampire diaries season 2
Comment posted September 16, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

capitalism is why we are a success….Not because of wealth re-distribution, not because of a socialist agenda, but because of the way we adhere to the constitution and its emphasis on property rights. It is why it works. If socialism is so great why has it been one of the biggest failures ever? why are the European countries attempting to shy away from their model of healthcare? because it is actually more expensive and less productive than our system. People please research how much they actually have to pay in other countries as well as the time it takes to get everything done..,.oh not to mention US survival rates for cancer, hiv, etc is over 20% of that of Europenan universal or single payer systems. THEY PAY MORE OUT OF POCKET.


TheTitanThanos
Comment posted September 24, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

Look, I can come up with a way niftier conspiracy theory than Glenn Beck and I can use twice as many colors of dry-erase marker. I promise you UFOs, Illuminati, and clones of Joan Rivers working a gigantic world-machine underneath the Antarctic ice. I promise you chartreuse markers, mauve markers, invisible markers that you need my training course to see.

Forget that mushy moderate and rally to me!


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Pingback posted February 18, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

[...] last Thursday (YouTube) washingtonindependent.com [...]


4531504
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

4531504 beers on the wall. sck was here


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